I've been writing on the overall plan in various thread on this forum. It's very clear that Germany and the rest of the EU recognize that the five pillars of their plan (storage being but one pillar) are out of sync. The number one reason for this? Because it was cheaper, easier, and faster to develop renewable generation than they planned when they started.
Germany has some storage on the grid already - CAES, pumped storage. Also on a grid-scale/grid-centric side they have smallish battery storage. They also have "wind to hydrogen" generation/storage under construction (the first facility went on-line in late 2014).
It's really important to understand that the EnergieWende (EnergyTransition) is only one part of their process, though. The EnergieWende started in the mid-1990s as a bottom-up push by the citizenry to move to renewables. It often required changing laws to allow roof-top generation to be fed into the grid (and when laws failed, some towns simply bought the local power grid from the utility and changed the rules as the new grid operator). Now there are complete towns that have their own large wind turbines, PV, solar-thermal, and biogas-powered hot water and electricity generation and are producing twice the energy they're using. The EnergieWende is about citizens fighting for the right to make their own energy and to control their own environment. In a big sense, it's pushing back against corporate control. One shouldn't be surprised that there are 'hurt feelings' from corporations or their mouthpieces at Forbes.
In addition to the EnergieWende, is the transition of the country to a Third Industrial Revolution where all of the country's energy - that used for electricity, hot water, process/industrial heating, and transportation - is renewable. This is a top-down plan and it, too, is reshaping the energy playing field. The TIR has also been written into law and is mandatory for the entire EU. It's been adopted by the UN for developing nations. It's also in the early stages of implementation in China.
Specific to the pillars and that they got out of sync, we have this from the architect of the plan:
And lest we think this is a lot of academic patter, Germany, since the Chancellor's come in:
Pillar 1: they're at 25% green electricity already and they're heading to 35% by 2020.
Pillar 2: Germany's converted one million buildings in the last seven years - they're producing small amounts of [excess] green electricity and a third of a million net jobs. They've just begun. Denmark's doing just as well. So when people say: "It can't be done" it can be done. And when people say: "Well, show me!" let's take the number one economic power per capita in the world Germany and you'll see it being done right there - at near zero marginal cost for energy.
Pillar 3: Storage. The sun's not always shining...the wind blows at night and you've got to have the electricity during the day... The water tables can be down for hydroelectricity due to climate change drought... These are intermittent energies and we've got to store them. We at the EU level are in favor of ALL storage: batteries, flywheels, capacitors, air compression, water pumping, we like them all! But I must say we put most of our focus at the center of all these storage networks on hydrogen [using electrolysis and fuel cells]. Engineers, this is a tiny thermodynamic loss compared to bringing oil, coal, gas, and uranium every step of conversion and loss to the end user.
Pillar 4 - this is where the internet revolution combines with the new distributed renewable energies to create a nervous system for the new general purpose technology platform. We're using off the shelf internet technology and IT technology and we're transforming the power grid in Europe into an energy internet - a distributed smart grid. If you hear political and business leaders saying: "Oh, we like that smart grid" ask them what kind - centralized or distributed? Centralized means they put an advanced meter on your home and you get all the information only going to them at headquarters and it's all proprietary. That has nothing to do with this. This is an energy internet - a distributed smart grid. It'll connect everything to everything so that when millions of buildings are producing just small amounts of electricity and storing it as hydrogen... Then if you don't need some of that green electricity during the day or week or month, you can program your software right there with your own killer app from home and send that green electricity across an energy internet that in our case extends from the Irish Sea to the doorstep of Russia. Just like we create information, store it in digital, and share it on-line. Deutsche Telekom has tested successfully the smart grid across Germany. Storage is now in with E.ON and Hydrogenics as well - they're just putting it on-line.
Pillar 5 - logistics. Electric vehicles are here; fuel cell cars, trucks, and buses between 2015 and 2017 by the six major auto companies - this is a done deal - these are fuel cell vehicles. We'll be able to plug-in our vehicles anywhere, wherever we park across the country there'll will be a parking [spot] plug right there...plug it back into the main grid which is distributed and get green electricity. Let's say you're at work - keep that computer on. So if that electricity price goes up on the grid the computer will tell your car to send your electricity back to the grid. We're already beginning to do that in Europe [on a small scale].
These five pillars are nothing - they're components. It's only when we connect them that we have what we call the general purpose technology platform. It's an infrastructure technology platform. Do not make the mistake that President Obama made...he got bad advice. He wanted a green economy, he still wants a green economy, he spent billions and billions of dollars of tax money for a green economy - it isn't here. Because he spent it on isolated, siloed, pilot projects. So they'd invest in a solar factory in one state, an electric car factory in another state - unconnected! This is an infrastructure revolution.
We understood this in Europe. We had the five pillars, but we moved pillar 1 quickly, and not the other four. So we put in a huge amount of green electricity because we have feed-in tariffs. That is, you're paid premium for sending your green electricity back to the grid beyond what the price of the market is to encourage early adoption. So we have millions of people putting in a little green electricity. Pillar 1! We didn't move pillar 4 quick enough - the energy internet. So we got millions of little players trying to get green electricity into a grid that's 60 years old, servo-mechanical, centralized, leaks 20% of its electricity and it's overwhelmed by all these little players - it can't handle it. Then Pillar 1 has been so successful we have so much green electricity because of the feed-in tariffs - we didn't move Pillar 3 storage fast enough. We've got regions that are 30, 40, 50, and 60% green electricity and we are losing 3 out of 4 kiloWatts because we're not storing the energy. So the electricity is at night because of the wind - we don't need it at night! Sometimes at high-noon there's so much solar going into the grid that we have negative price - meaning the utility pays you to not put the energy on. Then at midnight it goes back up again because we haven't put in Pillar 3 storage. And now our car companies are petrified because they spent billions on electric and fuel cell vehicles, they're sending them to market but if they don't have an infrastructure to plug them into, it's all lost. So we've got to build this out as an infrastructure revolution. And when we do, this third industrial revolution, this is power to the people - I mean this literally and figuratively.
They're not going to have any problem keeping the lights on, and the use of renewables is not causing higher energy prices. There's more than ample evidence that in Europe, more wind and solar equals higher grid reliability and a reduction in the rate of price increases. In Germany, while fossil fuel prices continue to increase, power from renewables continues to drop in price.